The St. Mary’s School Saints held their breath as Wake Christian Academy fired off the final three-point attempt.
On the final play of its 49-46 win over Wake Christian Tuesday night, St. Mary’s turned over its inbounds pass with fewer than 2 seconds showing in regulation.
Wake Christian’s Anna Fish chucked up a convincing 3, the miss making contact with the iron as the buzzer sounded.
“They did a really nice job the last minute of putting pressure on our guards and putting up shots quick, so I have to give them a lot of credit,” St. Mary’s coach Dean Monroe said.
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The Saints muscled its way to a 10-point halftime lead and were powered by the force of senior forward Andy Smithey. She consistently attacked the basket and owned the glass, leading the game with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
When the visiting Bulldogs showed some life in the final quarter, Smithey answered Monroe’s call to be confident by knocking down an elbow jumper in the final minute and 23 seconds to create some separation.
While St. Mary’s led 41-28 at the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs came within in three in the final period.
“We had a plan (for the last play), and they got through,” Smithey said. “We had to definitely trust each other to be able to perform.”
Elizabeth Hare led Wake Christian with 13 points. St. Mary’s guards Pell Williamson and Stephanie Carrea added 11 and 10 points, respectively, to round out the double figures.
“They’re gutsy, they’re gritty, they play hard,” Wake Christian coach Randy Johnson said of his Bulldogs. “Effort’s never a problem, but we don’t shoot very well, so we have to make up for it in other places.”
Wake Christian’s Hare scored with 1:53 left in the game, bringing the Bulldogs’ deficit to 42-39. They had won the extra possession after a miss went out of bounds off the hands of St. Mary’s. Wake Christian had fought all period to dig itself out of a hole and coming within three solidified the efforts.
Three who mattered
Andy Smithey, St. Mary’s: She was unstoppable when fed the ball in the low post. She took six trips to the free throw line (7-of-10), including two converted and-1 opportunities. Her game-leading 25 points inched her closer to 1,000 career points.
“I think all the transition baskets (worked for me tonight),” Smithey said. “We were trying to push the pace and wear them out. And then facing the basket instead of playing with my back to it. They were good at stopping me when I turned.”
Pell Williamson, St. Mary’s: She was handy on defense, especially at the top of the zone. Williamson led the game with six steals, adding two assists and a block.
Elizabeth Hare, Wake Christian: Not only did she lead her team in points and rebounds (eight), she scored when the Bulldogs most needed it. She played heavy man defense down the stretch, forcing a jump ball in WCA’s favor when it was down five with about 3 minutes remaining.
By the numbers
7: Game-leading assists from Wake Christian freshman Emma Stout
3: St. Mary’s starters who scored, all in double figures
2: Free throws Hare knocked down in the fourth after a Smithey technical
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan